5 Ways to Exercise Out of Your Comfort Zone


- by Caila Ball

Comfort is great when it comes to jeans and mattresses, but comfort zones in fitness are another story altogether. Staying in one for too long can result in boredom, decreased motivation and a plateau in fitness and weight loss.

None of these negative side effects of comfort sounded all that great to me, which is why I became a fitness explorer. A healthy dose of new classes, fitness challenges and changes of scenery have confirmed my suspicion that comfort is overrated, and what happens outside the zone is even more fun than it is intimidating.

Ready to leave your own exercise comfort zone? Here 5 strategies to help you do it:

1. Try New Classes

Before entering the world of fitness exploration, I was definitely in a Monday-
Wednesday-Friday running, Tuesday-Saturday barre rut. While I loved – and continue to love – both workouts, the same-o, same-o put a damper on my motivation. The solution? 

Trying new types of classes – a boot camp workout like Open Sky Fitness for cardio – and swapping in yoga and Pilates into my strength and flexibility routine. 

2. Set a Hard Goal

I used to avoid climbing, jumping and heights at all costs. Life on solid ground was solidly comfortable. To force myself to overcome those blocks, I signed up for a Tough Mudder. It forced me to leave my comfort zone, and to stay out of it. If you’re afraid you’ll quickly return back to your comfort zone, set a goal. Whether it’s a 10K, a CrossFit Challenge, or a triathlon, that finish line will help keep you on track.

3. Take a Run Worth the Drive

Maybe it’s not the type of exercise that’s the problem, but doing the same routine over and over again that’s keeping you in your comfort zone. Such was the case with my typical (flat) 5-mile evening jog loop. Buick’s Runs Worth the Drive challenge inspired me to drive my Verano loaner away from my usual city run to the hilly canyons of Malibu. The ocean view made the crazy hills worth it, and the workout pushed me past my mileage plateau.

4. Try One Class that Scares You

You know the one. You’re thinking about it right now, aren’t you? Yes, I can read minds (It’s CrossFit, isn’t it?). Stop avoiding the class that intimidates you, and prove to yourself that you can do it, or, at the very least, that you can try it. For me, I was irrationally afraid of hot yoga, specifically the potential to pass out during a class. As it turns out, I didn’t even come close to fainting in Earth’s Power Yoga, which was far more bearable (and relaxing) than I had built it up to be. 

5. Bump it Up!

Since high school, I’ve considered myself an LSD (long slow distance) runner, and have stuck to a 9-minute pace. Then I started running intervals in Sweat Garage and Barry’s Boot Camp, and realized I’m faster than I give myself credit for. I gradually chipped away at my time, and eventually hit a 6:30 mile! A grueling 6:30 mile that I have yet to do again, but a whole lot faster than my typical 9-minute pace.

Have you been a 9 minute-miler your whole life? Always do 15 reps with 10 pounds? Never take advantage of the incline feature on a treadmill? Perhaps you really have reached your fitness potential...or perhaps the best is yet to come. You’re never going to find out if you don’t give it a bunch of tries.

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